Check on your single friends!

The current state of lockdown is necessary, but it’s isolating. There are good parts to that, but there also bad parts. It’s been mentioned before that modern life works against the creation and maintenance of communities, and that’s doubly true right now. That means that some people are at risk of falling through the cracks of social isolation. Many of us live with other people – parents, house/room mates, significant others, spouses – we have people to look out for us and take care of us when we’re sick. We have people who will call for first responders if something goes wrong and we can’t do so ourselves.

A lot of people are not in that situation. By choice or by chance, a lot of people live alone, and while that can have its upsides, it also comes with a degree of vulnerability. A friend of mine who works in healthcare recently articulated the problem in a way I think is useful:


I’ve been terrified that I’ll catch this thing at work (it’s gotta be at work because I am scrupulous outside of work), become incapacitated at home (I was close to incapacitated by plain old flu A a couple of years ago)—

—and then no one will come check on me and feed my cat and make sure I have food and water and clean sheets and fresh pajamas and Tylenol. Because “you have to love people at a distance” and “no exceptions” and “flatten the curve” and “no contacts outside the household” and “this means you.” And I’ll be lying in an awful fever dream too sick to care for myself but not sick enough to go to the hospital.

That’s it. That’s the fear.

I feel much better now because one person promised that they won’t let that happen to me, but hey, PLEASE check on your single friends, and maybe offer to be that person for them. And as I have said in way too many Facebook posts now, PLEASE, I beg of you, check your rhetoric for how it might sound to a single person who lives alone. Especially if that person cannot “just stay at home.”

This is spot on. Check in on your acquaintances who are single or living alone. You don’t have to break your own isolation to communicate and make sure they’re OK. COVID-19 is a debilitating illness for some, as are many other ailments, and the way things are right now, some people may have things go wrong, and nobody will notice, because we’re not supposed to be seeing people around. Now is the time to engage in the praxis of community. Check up on each other. Stay in contact. Reach out if you feel that you need someone to check up on YOU. It’s always OK to ask for help.

Hey everybody, I am once again asking for your assistance. I really need help paying my bills and keeping a roof over my head. is a way for you to help with that, even if it’s just a little bit, and get some perks and extra content in return. You control how much you give, and how long you give it, and every little bit really does help. When lots of people pitch in, it can make a huge difference. Please help if you’re able, and share my work with others. Thank you!


  1. blf says

    Yes, that is quite spot on, and is perhapsprobably my concern as well, with a twist… I am an anglophone living alone in S.France, and so am concerned that should something happen to me, alone, I’d have a difficult time making myself understood if I happened to be able to get in contact with the French emergency / medical services (who are excellent). This should normally not be much of an issue as the emergency lines have bilingual staff on duty (or so I understand, not having had to ever put this to the test), but the French government has made clear the special Covid-19 service lines are French-speaking (in fact, for awhile, there was no information en Anglais on their sites (there now is)).

  2. says

    I’ve seen some people recommend that folks keep a piece of paper on them with emergency contacts, medical problems, and stuff like that. I wonder if people in your situation might benefit from having rehearsed script or something?

    It’s hard to know. I’ve spent a little time in countries where my grasp on the language wasn’t great, and the isolation you’re talking about is serious business, particularly in a crisis.

  3. blf says

    folks keep a piece of paper on them with emergency contacts, medical problems, and stuff like that

    Yes, when I am traveling (which I obviously am not at the moment!), that is one of the precautions I take. I also provide a sealed copy to an appropriate reliable person (just who depends on whether the trip is business or other). However, you are correct I’m not doing that normally, not even now; and thanks for the reminder I probably should.

    My concern isn’t so much having / developing a problem when being out (which is currently rare — France is in lockdown — I’ve been successful in limiting outside trips to one-a-week), but becoming infected and so sick inside my home I would not be able to call for help, or if I could, would have problems making myself understood. The guidelines differ for Covid-19, there are special numbers to call for advice / instructions if one suspects one is infected (mildly or seriously).

    I’ve always had a minor-ish similar concern — e.g., falling down the stairs and breaking my leg — but that concern is not so much about making myself understood as simply being unable to call in the first place. One reads, every now and then, of people having an accident or (e.g.) heart attack whilst at home, alone, and then being discovered, dead, months or even years later.

  4. says

    If you do get sick, and you don’t have arrangements for people to check on you, let me know? I only have a couple contacts in France but I’d be willing to help search for resources and whatnot if it’s needed.

  5. blf says

    Thanks. I have friends and contacts here in France whom I’m very confident could and would help. Nonetheless, a “backup to the backup”, so to speak, is comforting. What this does point out — similar to @3’s paper — is I should write out a contingency plan with (contact-)details now, “just in case”, for myself to (try and) follow should something nasty(-ish) happen. Think NASA mission style planning…
    (That actually strikes me as sensible for anyone, especially other living-by-themselves, even those without various “complicating” factors.)

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